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Proper Onboarding Can Make the Difference Between a “Bad Hire” and a “Superstar”

Posted By: Debbie Milks on August 26, 2015

If you make a “bad hire” for your company, you know it’s going to be a bad situation with bad repercussions.  In fact, Brookwoods Group charted this out and provided the tool to estimate the “cost of a bad hire” in a recent blog post: .

But did you know it’s quite possible to start with a great hire – a potential superstar – and transform them into a bad hire by shoving them through a bad onboarding process?  It happens every day, and the consequences are the same (or worse) than if you hire the wrong person in the first place.  That’s the premise of an article by organizational improvement gurus David Lee and Jacob Schneid in ERE’s online blog,

Lee and Schneid outline several best practices for onboarding that can help prevent converting great hires into bad hires.  Tops on their list:

  • Educate managers on the importance of great onboarding.
  • Communicate the crucial role of the managers in the process.
  • Provide managers with the training to perform onboarding well.
  • Hold managers accountable for “people management” and tie it to their compensation.
  • Get feedback from new hires (and everyone involved) to improve the onboarding process.
  • Engage new hires in a conversation to help understand their unique onboarding needs and the recipe for their ongoing engagement.
  • Provide multiple vehicles for new employees to provide feedback in the first year of their employment.
  • Engage senior management team to understand their expectations of onboarding.

onboardingimproperOver the years, I have watched many companies work hard during the hiring process and then blow it when it comes to onboarding.  Often hiring managers look at the onboarding process as an HR function (someone else’s responsibility) and they perceive that it just takes a week or so to get the individual tested, signed in, security passes issued and maybe a safety training or two.  Someone shows them where to find the restrooms, the coffee machine and the workstations of their immediate team members.  Check.  Check.  Check.  Done!


It’s like throwing a kid in the deep end of a pool.  Maybe they’ll learn to swim.  Maybe not.

You can be the exceptional hiring manager and do exactly what is mentioned in this article.  Just follow a few simple steps:

  1. Take the time to understand the team and spend time reviewing the decision process for hiring the new employee.
  2. Make sure everyone in the workgroup understands the importance of assimilating their new employee into the team, company and job.  (Yes, this new person is “their” new teammate, not merely “your” new hire.)
  3. Respect the employee and make sure they have what they need to be productive and engaged.

The cost to have someone leave after several months hits your bottom line.  Hard.  Assuming you hired a fundamentally great person, just a little extra care and focus with onboarding can avoid unnecessary expense and potential damage to your company's reputation.

Screen capture courtesy magician Justin Flom at